Play has the power to heal – Katie Best

Leadership trainer and coach, living in London

I am coming out of this knowing how to play. It’s only taken me a week to realise that before all of this, I had forgotten how to play. It terrified me. The first few days of lockdown, I didn’t sleep. I felt confident in the role of teacher and parent, but not playmate. How could I keep my only child happy in the absence of her friends? I can organise; I can do arts and crafts; I can have structured fun; I can furnish the dolls house. But playing? Mums and dads, dolls, pirates, Sylvanians? Not so much.  

But I’m already getting better. My daughter calls me up to her bedroom to play, and rather than making an excuse, I go. We play with her Lottie dolls. I’m the mum and little brother, she’s the strong older sister and the toddler girl.

I resist the urge to turn it into a lesson (2 dolls x 2 = ?) and instead start making the little brother really naughty. I worry I’m hamming it up too much. I ask her how I’m doing. A pause. And then she turns, beaming: “You’re doing great. This is great. Really excellent,” she tells me. And she sits closer. Playing makes us laugh and helps us to forget things. We leave the game stronger, happier and more resilient. She is reminding me of the value of play for healing and self-defence. When she’s older, I’ll have to remember to thank her.TwitterLinkedIn

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